I’m Not Sure That They’re Sure

Big Bang

Here are some extracts from Atheist/Christian Apologist arguments debates.

So, how do you explain the empty tomb of Christ and the 500 witnesses to His post-death appearances?

I’d explain it the same way I’d explain Harry Potter waving a non-existent wand, and shouting ‘Petronus!’ Somebody wrote it down, who hoped that you’d buy into it.

The odds of Life arising spontaneously, are 1 with 41,000 zeroes behind it.

It didn’t have to go all the way to the last zero to be successful. It might have happened on the first – or the tenth – or the thousandth time. And all the attempts need not be sequential. In Earth’s reported early ages, the chemical soup in the oceans was thick, and there were tens of thousands of lightning strikes PER DAY, which might have catalyzed primitive life.

Question: Was there ever a time when there was no chemical soup, no oceans, no lightning strikes or electricity, no Earth?

Yes. What’s your point?

Was there ever a time when there was no chemical soup, no oceans, no lightning strikes or electricity, no Earth?

(Well, that certainly clarifies that! 😛 )
In the beginning, if the scientific and mathematical evidence is valid, 13.8 Billion years ago, ‘The Big Bang’ allowed a hyper-dense singularity, containing all matter, to expand and become the Universe of today.

If geological research is correct, the Earth came into existence about 4.5 billion years ago. This leaves over 9 Billion years in-between, twice the time that the Earth has existed, when stars were born and died. Some exploded into novas, and super-novas, fusing hydrogen and helium into the heavier and heavier elements necessary for the rise of life. Eventually gravitational tides caused some of it to agglomerate, and coalesce into our galaxy, our sun, our solar system, our planet.

Even then, it took over a billion years for the Earth to cool enough to allow the existence of liquid water, and the chemical soup that life was spurred from. Yes, once upon a time – actually, for a really long time – there was no Earth, no oceans, no soup, no lightning, no life. So what??! There is also no proof – no vague indication – that the butler God did it.

I think I answered this (a claim that Atheists can’t be happy without God) in my final paragraph in the article, for those who believe in Genesis 1:1; it’s the verse that divides. I actually think you’d agree with that statement.

Actually, I don’t agree with it, because, actually, you didn’t ’answer’ it. You made a statement – an unproven claim – which buttresses your opinions, ignoring the statements of Atheists. This is merely the first of dozens – hundreds – of verses which divide, not merely Christians from Atheists, but often one sect of Christians from the rest. I have a file with 23 pages of examples of mistakes and contradictions in the Bible. One verse says one thing, and a page or two later, another verse says something entirely different.

There’s no compelling reason for another atheist to adopt your moral imperative as their own, and many don’t. If no God created, then why should they have to? Yours is no doubt better for your neighbours than some of the things other atheists have adopted, and it may be better in practice than some who claim to be Christians do. But still, it comes back to the fact that you are the one who has decided it, and it has no answer for death. You are supreme while you are alive but you will submit to death, so your supremacy is limited. Death is supreme for you — you claim supremacy now, but you know it is only temporary.

I realize that it makes you feel better to phrase statements like this, in a way that reinforces your stance and beliefs. Of course there is no compelling reason for anyone to accept my beliefs except me. Each person should be free within their own mind. There need be no imperative. There is no dogma among Atheists, as there is in Christian churches. This whole statement seriously disturbs me. People who compel others are – at best, bullies – at worst, criminals.

This appetite for compulsion and competition is worrying. Life is not a game, to be lost or won. Rather, we all should do the best we can with what we have. I make no claim of supremacy, whether over Death, or anyone else, and I have no answer for Death. It is inevitable. Life, indeed, is temporary. Make the most of it that you can, while you have it. Don’t wait for God to (maybe) iron out your wrinkles, once you’re gone.   😳

***

BTW:

I just had an epiphany. Atheists are allowed to have them. While I was getting the above post ready to publish, I heard (All Christmas – All The Time) The Little Drummer Boy song. For years, it has drifted in one ear and out the other, with no thought. Suddenly, I realized what is being unwittingly portrayed.

“A Little Drummer Boy is not just some kid in an elementary school band. A drummer boy is the child, trained to beat out the cadences for ancient armies. The bugler conveyed the orders to march, attack, retreat, wheel left, etc. The drummer boy set the pace for thousands of men to kill and maim each other.

It is disturbing that this song shows him displaying his martial abilities…. to the Prince of Peace. 👿

Even other Christians are disturbed at a new trend this Christmas.  More and more ‘Good Christians’ are adding crosses to their Nativity scenes.  There are two, very different stories within the New Testament.  One is about the birth of the Christ child.  The other is about the death of the Messiah.  They should not be confused for one another.  This just seems to say, “Open your eyes, kid.  See what they have in store for you.”  😯

IS ATHEISM A RELIGION?

Religions

‘Theism’ means ‘belief in a god or gods’. Believers usually sign up to the values and principles of a godly belief system: it’s an ideology. Theistic ideologies are commonly known as faiths or religions. Many ideologies have the suffix ‘ism’; for example, liberalism, socialism, and communism but, in the case of ‘atheism’, the ‘ism’ ending has merely been inherited from its root: ‘theism’. The prefix ‘a’ turns the meaning around to the negative, that is, ‘not a belief in a god’, so ‘atheism’ is as far from a faith or religion as it’s possible to get.

Atheism is not a belief system, so that should end this article right here, but theists will likely not be satisfied. They might point to the things atheists and religions have in common: religions form churches, atheists form associations; churches and atheist associations appoint members to formal roles such as bishop and president; church members give offerings, atheists pay subscriptions; churches hold services, atheist hold meetings. Churches and Atheists both have literature they value and people they admire.

The problem is, these are superficial similarities and if they make Atheism a religion, they make political parties and table tennis clubs religions too. That is obviously absurd.

There is one organization in the United States which makes it their job to decide which group is a religion and which is not, and that’s The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Religions receive highly favorable treatment in the USA and the IRS wants to avoid giving these advantages to organizations that are not genuine religions. So the IRS has a set of criteria they apply to any group claiming to be a religion. The primary criteria are listed below with how Atheist groups qualify [shown in parenthesis].

  1. Distinct legal existence [Some Atheist groups are legal entities.]
  2. Recognized creed and form of worship [No creed or forms of worship.]
  3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government [No ecclesiastical governance.]
  4. Formal code of doctrine and discipline [No doctrine.]
  5. Distinct religious history [No religious history.]
  6. Membership not associated with any other church or denomination [Atheists may join any number of atheist groups.]
  7. Organization of ordained ministers [No ministers of any kind.]
  8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study [No courses of study.]
  9. Literature of its own [No literature reserved for one group.]
  10. Established places of worship [No worship.]
  11. Regular religious services [No religious services.]
  12. Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young [No instructing the young.]
  13. Schools for the preparation of its members [No atheist schools.]

With only one criterion applicable to Atheists (and that one all political parties and many clubs share), the IRS won’t be granting religious tax exemptions to Atheist groups any time soon.

Theists might follow-up by asking why Atheists bother to meet to talk about gods they do not believe in. There are several reasons atheists meet but none of them are to talk about gods they don’t believe in. A common reason, especially in very religious countries, is to find some time to socialize with like-minded people who are not preoccupied with religious beliefs.

In many cases, atheists meet as a reaction against religious intolerance, the infiltration of religious dogma into schools and legislation, or the entanglement of church and state. They meet to get organized in an attempt to combat these religious excesses.

Let’s spell this out; Atheists have no beliefs in common, no gods of any kind, nothing they worship, no scripture, no shared values, and no dogma. They have no clergy, no schools, and no sacred buildings. The only thing all Atheists share is a lack of belief in gods.

Why then do the religious so often claim that Atheism is a religion? I don’t know, you’ll have to ask religious people that question. Perhaps it is to try to establish a false equivalency, an attempt to drag Atheism down to the level of a religion—a set of unsubstantiated beliefs, in a landscape where beliefs are held only on faith. If so, they would be completely wrong about that too. 😯

 

Feel Free To Think

I’m sitting here staring at my own title with ironic amusement.  I know what I want to say.  I just can’t seem to marshal my thoughts to say it clearly and tactfully.  Well, that’s the beauty of electronic editing, I can always change it.  Here goes.

I took the daughter to another meeting of the Free Thinkers Society.  It is possible to be a free-thinker and still be a Christian, although many “Good Christians” and all “Good Catholics” will deny that.  Free Thinkers, atheists, agnostics and *science* don’t wish to be enemies of Christianity, but they are all thinkers, and Catholicism in particular, denies the right to think for yourself.  I commented to my *recovering Catholic* wife, one time, about reading a Bible passage when she was a child, and was astounded to find that Good Catholics are not permitted to read the Bible.  They might *misinterpret* it.  They had to wait for a priest to tell them what it meant.

With the Catholic Church at the top of the list, all Christian denominations present their particular set of views, as a monolithic whole, indivisible, and unquestionable.  The Catholic Church rails against “supermarket religion”, and says that its followers can’t pick and choose what they will and will not believe.  Yet the same church picked and chose among divinely inspired gospels, written at the same time, by the same group of holy people, and found among the same scrolls.  The Church included in the Bible the ones which solidified their position and ignored the ones which did them no good.

The Catholic Church changes its dogma from time period to time period, and from place to place, yet its followers are expected to believe that it remains uniform.  I worked with a young woman who was the child of an English Catholic couple who had moved to Canada.  In England, when a child was taken in to be baptised, any name could be chosen. 

They had picked the name Lynne for her, but the priest demanded to know what saint’s name they had chosen.  He told them he could not baptise a child without a saint’s name.  He told them that they could pick any holy name except Jesus or Madonna.  Under time pressure, they chose Virginia, after the Virgin Mary.  Every third Latino is named Jesus (hay-sues), and the Detroit Madonna is still trying to keep British riff-raff from walking through her back yard.  The British Catholic rules are not observed in Canada, and Canadian Catholic rules are not obeyed in the US, or south of its borders.

It is said that some people believe they’re thinking, when all they are doing is rearranging their prejudices.  A recent column in the local paper would be amusing, if the writer wasn’t so darned serious.  He doesn’t say that he’s a vegetarian, just that he’s a member of Toronto Pig Save.  What he doesn’t say is as telling as what he does say. He wants to prevent pigs from being trucked and slaughtered at a large Toronto plant.  He plays the same language games that the churches play, and, to one who pays attention, sounds just as foolish.  He tries the *Own the Definition Gambit*, but fails, quickly and miserably.

He immediately stakes out the high ground by asking, “Is it moral to slaughter pigs just so we can have bacon?”  He quickly reckons that most Canadians would answer yes, to this.  “Moral” means actions or behavior based on right and wrong.  He would like most people to think his viewpoint is right, but morality in this case is subjective and the majority says he’s wrong.  I’m happy he’s got a hobby trying to save pigs, but he never mentions cows, steers, veal calves, turkeys or chickens.  Why so much heat about hogs, while ignoring the rest?

He writes about people from his group standing on the street, taking pictures and videos of pigs on their way to the slaughter-house.  He points out that the temperature one day was 36C (95F), and the trucks were not air-conditioned.  It would be illegal to leave a dog in a car on such a day – but a dog would be sealed in a car, whereas the pigs were in a trailer with airflow though many openings.  In fact, the pigs would be covered by the top of the trailer, and probably a lot cooler and more comfortable than the idiots out on the sidewalk taking pictures.

He feels the answer to his question above might change if the word pigs were changed to puppies.  Now he’s trying to play the *Define Cute* game.  Someone said that, if baby seals looked like lobsters, no-one would say a word when they were clubbed to death.  He says that pigs are notoriously smart, and have a habit of looking you in the eye – as if to say, “I know what you have in mind for me, and I’m disappointed in your lack of character.” He need have no such worry.  I’m sure even the pigs consider him quite a character, standing out in the sun, peering into passing trucks, in an attempt to change the millennia-old eating habits of the human race.

While I’m sure he wants to keep the pigs from being slaughtered, the main thrust of the article is their handling and transportation.  He complains a couple of times about the lack of air-conditioning.  How would he suggest they be delivered, one at a time, in limos?  That would stop people from eating pork.  It would drive the price as high as a communications satellite, with beef and chicken right behind it.

Do you want to be fed, or do you want to be Nice?  Here’s a nice tofu sandwich while you consider.  Pigs also provide ribs, roasts, stews and sausage.  Ignore that man behind the truck wheel.  Just click your heels twice and return to brunch.  He wrote a nice (there’s that word again.) little feel-good article.  I just don’t think that much thinking went into it.

In Search Of Truth

Some people claim that they’re in search of truth.  Others don’t even bother to make the claim.  All too often, the impetus and the result are the same.  Most folks don’t want the truth.  As Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.”  What they really want, is for their opinions to be validated and for others to agree with them and make them feel good.  Even when the truth is presented to them, they keep denying it and pushing it away, because, that’s not what they want to see.

At my daughter’s housing complex, they’ve had some incidents occur which led the board to decide to install electronic security cameras, around the office area.  One of the cameras was to be trained on the children’s playground, right beside the office.  Most reasonable people would agree that, protection of the kids would be a good idea.  A secondary reason for that camera was that, one of the male teens from the complex, and two or three of his non-resident friends are thought to be climbing over the playground fence, and dropping out of sight into the tiny yard behind the office.  They’re probably smoking dope, and the camera can’t see them, but would provide evidence if a fire started, or damage was done.

A female living across the driveway high-jacked a board meeting last week.  She found out that the cameras were going up and started ranting about spying on the children and looking in her windows.  She went around to many of the residents and told them that they must attend the important meeting.  She just didn’t tell them what it was all about.  When most of them found out what the issue was, they shrugged and left.  One woman, who she thought would support her, stated that she felt the security was a good idea, especially for the kids.  That led to a loud, nasty confrontation.  Even when she was told that the cameras would only be turned on from 6 P.M. to 6 A.M. and was offered to view the feed from the “offending” camera, she refused the offer, and continued her rant.  Purely coincidentally, the next day, the camera was damaged, when it wasn’t turned on.

In a minor grandstanding play, to seem as if he’s doing something when he’s really not, the Premier of Ontario instructed the Minister of Education, to order the individual boards of education, to facilitate the formation of gay/straight alliance groups in all high-schools.  The bullying of gays is a serious subject, but it is not the only aspect of school bullying, nor, perhaps, is it the most important facet of the problem.  It is, however, the one the Premier wants to champion.

The public school boards quietly, efficiently, obediently went along with the directive.  They know which way the wind is blowing, and when the photo-ops arrive, they want to be seen to be on the side of goodness and right.  The Catholic school boards, however, have been more of a problem.  Some of them are reluctantly willing to have the groups formed.  It’s just that they can’t have a name which includes the word gay.  They can have a mix of straights and gays.  They just can’t say they have gays in them.

The local Catholic board has still not got around to authorizing formation, largely due to one particular male board member.  He was interviewed by a reporter for the local paper to give his reasons for the foot-dragging.  His response was, that if these groups were allowed to form, they would just devolve into giant gay sex orgies.  That’s right, groups that would prevent bullying by ignorant, prejudiced individuals, are prevented from forming by an ignorant, prejudiced individual in a position of power.  It seems that someone might have pointed out his baseless, paranoid position, because the next sentence in his quote was, “Even if they don’t, there’ll be talk about perverted stuff, like anal and oral sex, and I don’t want my kids hearing about that kind of thing.”  Fine, then tell your kids not to join the groups that others wish to form.

The Catholic Church vs. Girl Scouts.  Over the past several years, there has been friction between the Church and tween girls.  The Church has, on several occasions, claimed that the organization supports birth control and abortion.  These charges have been vigorously denied.  Despite being shown that these charges are false, in several dioceses and instances, representatives of the Catholic Church continue to fling the same old mud.  Recently a Bishop in Indiana has called for denunciation of the group under the same baseless charges.  The attacks themselves are difficult enough to fend off and maintain dignity.  The membership of Girl Scouts has declined from 3.3 million, to 2.6 million young girls in America.

Many Girl Scout troops are currently using rooms in Catholic churches for meeting halls.  If The Church divorces them, (Oops!  Can’t say divorce and Catholic Church in the same sentence!) they will have to try to find alternative meeting places.  Also, a million of the girls left in troops are Catholic.  They will be forced to decide whether to leave their religion, or their uplifting group of friends.  I know which one I would choose, but then, I’m an old and greatly experienced curmudgeon.

It is sad that people like these, choose to practice and enforce their mindless dogma, rather than deal with imperfect, undesirable facts.  There’s an adage that, “If your cat has kittens in the barn, you can call them horses.  Just don’t try to ride them.”  These folks already have out the boots, spurs, Stetsons and lassoes, but it’s us they’re riding.  It’s time for us to tell them to get off our backs.